Our main modes of transportation consisted of the Eurorail, TGV, Metro and walking. But, as with every other aspect of trip planning, it is important to research because there are numerous options available.
There is the choice of whether to get first or second class train tickets; there really is a difference between the two although in the end, they both get you to where you want to go. With first class the seats are very comfortable, there is leg room and ample space for luggage, as well as drinks are offered by passing porters. We chose this option because of the length of time we would be spending on Eurorail while travelling through three different countries.
However, from Paris to Switzerland, we chose the TGV train system which travels at 320 km hour and often faster. This cut our train travel for this leg of our journey from over six hours to about three hours. We chose not to make reservations which would have been an additional cost, deciding to take our chances on not having to wait. Because we left early for the train station, and because the trains leave hourly, we were fortunate in not having a long wait time.
While in Switzerland we were able to use our Eurorail pass. If we had not had this pass, we would’ve had to purchase Swiss passes for transportation while in Switzerland. Our Eurorail pass also gave us passage on the ferries in both Lucerne and Interlacken as well as the cogwheel trains we took up Rigi Kulm Mountain and Jungfrauloch Mountain in Switzerland.
When we purchased our rail passes, based on the fact that we would be travelling to three countries, we got the three country, seven day pass which was ideal for our requirements although as it turned out, the two country pass would’ve been sufficient since the TGV had to be purchased separately. The cost of the pass is determined by the number of countries you visit and the number of days you are using your pass. Purchasing Eurorail passes outside of Europe is cheaper. The open tour bus in Rome was an additional cost. When we were travelling by train, we had to be aware of what the station before our stop was so we could get our luggage and be ready to leave the train when it came into the station.
While in Paris and Rome, we used the Metro system of transportation or by walking to our destinations. Both Metro systems were quite easy to use and in Paris in particular, almost every station had people available to answer questions. Also in Paris, the route you needed to take to get to the train level you wanted, was very clearly marked on the walls at each fork. While in Rome we only used their Metro system one day and had clear instructions on which line we needed to take and the station we had to get off. In both Paris and Rome Metro systems, the next station is shown overhead on a flashing sign so you are given ample warning.
The only taxi we took while in Europe was to the airport to catch our flights home. We could have taken a shuttle or bus to the train station which, between connections, would have taken several hours. For an early morning flight, and with the difficulty of having luggage to worry about, the cost of a taxi was well worth the extra money spent.
Before travelling, make sure to research, plan and organize so that things will go as smoothly as possible and time isn’t wasted trying to get information when that time could be spent travelling and getting to your point of destination more quickly. This is especially true when your travel time is limited as ours was – three countries, eight cities and other specific areas in just two weeks.